Characterization of regions of the Caenorhabditis elegans X chromosome containing vitellogenin genes

J Mol Biol. 1986 Apr 5;188(3):301-12. doi: 10.1016/0022-2836(86)90156-7.


Caenorhabditis elegans contains a family of vitellogenin genes consisting of five closely related genes (vit-1 to vit-5) coding for 186,000 Mr yolk proteins, and one distantly related gene (vit-6) encoding a 200,000 Mr precursor to two smaller yolk proteins. We demonstrate here that, although vit-1 to vit-5 are not clustered (with the exception of vit-3 and vit-4), they are all on the X chromosome. In contrast, vit-6 is autosomal. The genes are strictly regulated during development: they are activated in the intestine of the hermaphrodite worm, following the last larval molt. In order to determine whether the vit genes are contained within chromosomal domains of similarly regulated genes, we have used the chromosomal "walking" technique to isolate 55,000 to 60,000 base-pairs of DNA surrounding each of the X-linked genes and determined the developmental specificity of nearby genes. In the total of 235,400 base-pairs of cloned DNA, seven genes, in addition to the five vit genes, were found. The average gene spacing is approximately 20,000 base-pairs per gene but is highly variable, ranging from less than 2000 to more than 38,000 base-pairs. The seven newly identified genes, called uvt-1 to uvt-7, specify RNAs varying in size from 500 to 2700 bases. With the exception of uvt-4, all of the genes are developmentally regulated; but the patterns of regulation are quite variable, and all are different from the vitellogenin genes. The vit genes, therefore, are not contained within co-regulated chromosomal domains. We also searched for the presence of repetitive DNA, but only four such sequences were found.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel
  • Genes*
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Vitellogenins / genetics*
  • X Chromosome*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Vitellogenins
  • DNA